By Nicholas Goroff
Imagine the following. An organization dedicated to tracking expression and speech they deem unacceptable. This organization, in their tracking of such openly seeks to compile a list of those found guilty of said speech and as part of this, solicits individuals to anonymously submit individuals’ information to this database where such will be posted as part of a “hate speech” hall of shame. Now imagine that this very same organization expressed interest in having information regarding minors so that they may be tracked in regards to their online speech and activity.
This must all sound rather Orwellian at this point, as it rightly should. However such is the main thrust of the new campaign launched by SocialAutopsy.com which is presently seeking $75,000 on Kickstarter. Opening their pitch with “We are about to break the internet. Literally,” the page goes on to really sell the project by following it up with;
The smiling, inoffensive introduction with its attempts to present a hip, positive message aside, it takes only a little more reading and a brief glance at their introduction video to see that something far more obtrusive and frankly, McCarthy-esque at the core of this new effort. Presenting itself as an ‘anti-bullying’ and ‘anti-troll’ tool to combat online harassment, Social Autopsy seeks to create a social media database of those determined to be guilty of “hate speech.” In addition to the displaying of the individuals online information, Social Autopsy goes further as creator Candice Owens smugly explains in the site’s Kickstarter video, highlighting that they “attach their words to their places of employment.”
Claiming they seek to “lift the mask” from the accused wrong-speakers and effectively end internet anonymity, the group behind Social Autopsy, Degree 180 attempts to claim that the collating of speech they declare hate speech and establishing of profiles (presumably for use in social justice mobbing tactics) is simply the exercising of their freedom of speech. Curiously however, what is left out of their proclamation of a war on cyber-bullying is any indication of the necessary legal fund that will be required when the 22,000 individuals currently listed in their database file a class action lawsuit for defamation of character. Though being such tech savvy entrepreneurs as they are, they’ve undoubtedly sorted that out already.
While considering themselves to be both patriots and defenders of free speech, the creators of this ‘enemies of social justice’ list have decided not to allow any form of commenting on their site, stating ironically that they do not want to host a platform for any bullying themselves. In this, the reader is left to simply assume that they wish the bullying which results from their work to simply be organic and grassroots. This being the case however, as of the writing of this article, Degree 180’s own Youtube channel has yet to disable comments or ratings for their videos which have thus far been resoundingly negative.
In respect to the work being done, or attempting to be done by this small cadre of self-appointed internet police, little about it does not reek of the standard internet mobbing and shaming techniques utilized by feminists and social justice warriors. As it has been well documented thus far, the mobbing and harassing of suspected wrong-thinkers or wrong-speakers and their places of work, education and even home and social circles, in an effort to disrupt their lives as punishment for their online activity, is not only commonplace in social justice circles, but standard practice. Yet as wretched as this is, it is only just the beginning.
In addition to seeking to compile, publish and display e-offenders as their online speech is submitted by users hidden beneath the same veil of anonymity they seek to deny others, Social Autopsy goes a step further in their efforts to eliminate online privacy and anonymity. Seeking to crowdsource their shaming data, Social Autopsy not only encourages users to update profiles of social media users they know with personal information, but encourages them to use such to keep tabs on them, using the search function which they plan to launch once funded.
Though nowhere on their site do they outright encourage any particular uses of said information, within their promotional video the narrator highlights that “these people” (those they and their users have deemed guilty of hate speech) are among us, teaching our children and working as doctors. It was perhaps lost on them in the production of their materials that no matter the flowery rhetoric used to dress up the efforts, the language of authoritarians seeking to establish a thought police force always comes across the same. Be it the Stazi, Gestapo or those seeking to curb “cyber violence,” the desires on the part of some to punish speech, thought and expression that goes against the preferred orthodoxy always reeks of the same ideological intolerance.
As might be expected of such an effort, they’ve placed little to no real value in the verification of the information they receive. Thus far questions as to how they plan to deal with such have been generally brushed off, right alongside claims that theirs is simply a mobbing tool to be used by certain ideologues. Within Owen’s own Social Autopsy FAQ video, when the question as to how they plan to address the use of fake social media accounts by those seeking to defame others, the founder answers simply that “if somebody creates a fake Facebook profile pretending to be you, you’ve got a bigger problem than Social Autopsy, right?”
The sheer amount of confidence this inspires is frankly overwhelming. However even beyond the casual dismissal of very sensible concerns over privacy and verification, Owens takes an even bolder stance when it comes to questions about minors being added to her database. Stating that she believes “the best time to be on our database is when you are a minor,” she goes on to express her desire to use her shaming and mobbing platform to teach people how to use the internet “responsibly.”
It should not be such a stunning thing that safe space bullies such as these should seek to establish such a database with which conceivably anyone could access information about private individuals online and use such to whatever ends they may imagine, especially in times such as these when even the UN is wasting time on matters of “cyber violence.” However to even go as far as stating that in addition to providing employer information (a favorite target of social justice bullies) that minors ought to be added so that by an otherwise ill-defined method of education might right their wrong-think is, to your authors mind, simply beyond the pale.
A Change.org petition has already been launched calling directly upon Yancey Strickler, the CEO of Kickstarter to terminate Social Autopsy’s campaign. In the interest of full disclosure, it was in fact your author who launched such, just prior to writing this article. However as the content of this article itself should be evidence enough, it does not take a sickened journalist to recognize an Orwellian nightmare when he sees it.
Update: Since word of Social Autopsy’s project has gotten out and since the Change.org petition was launched, as of an hour ago (6:30 pm EST, April 14th 2016) Kickstarter has suspended their fund raising campaign.
This being the case, on Social Autopsy’s on twitter account it has been inferred that a Patreon will likely be the next step.in their attempts to fund their legally questionable and ethically reprehensible effort.
Additionally, it has been further discovered that last month on Elite Daily, Social Autopsy founder Candace Owens penned an article calling effectively for the overturning of the US Constitution, citing that:
To be honest, the materials presented here both between the stated aims of Social Autopsy as well as it’s founders apparent disdain for the Constitutional Republic that is the United States paint a picture of a morally bankrupt and possibly mentally ill individual, who would be better served by a shot of lithium and a padded room, than a crowd funded website, or a publisher to promote her skewed views on the basis for American law.